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Bacham arabice bresillum lignum rubicundum quo tingitur.


Bressilum AC fjp | bressilũ B | brasillũ ms. e
tingitur | tingũt tinctores ms. e | tangit~ f

Dahhaoui (2001: 210) established the same text on the basis of his collations:
Bacham arabice bresillum lignum rubicundum quo tingitur.
and he notes these vvll. - not all shown - for: Bacham] Bacam ..., Bachaç … ; and for bresillum] bresilum …, bresililum …, bressilum. .


Bacham is brazilwood in Arabic, a reddish wood which is used for dying.


بَقَّم /baqqam/ in Wehr is glossed Brazilwood; Lane has a long entry under the word with explanations from various lexicographers.

Bresillium is given in Niermeyer as a variant of brasile. Note the different spellings. Latham (1973) mentions further medieval Latin variants s.v. brasillum: brasilla, brasillium, bresilium, lignum brasillicum. The origin of the word is disputed and its medieval English form is brasil(e), French brésil, Spanish/Portuguese brasil, Italian brasile. The word is first mentioned in the European literature at the end of the 12th century in Chrétien de Troyes' Le Roman de Perceval, ed. Roach, W. Textes Littéraires Français. Genève/Paris (1959: 47), verses 1600-1604:
Si li fist porter en present
Chemise et braies de censil
Et cauces ta[i]ntes en bresil
Et cote d'un drap de soie ynde,
Qui fu tyssus et fais en Ynde.

{"And thus he had brought to him as a present // A shirt and knee-breeches of fine linen // And shoes dyed with brazilwood dye // And a tunic of cloth of Indian silk // That had been woven and made in India."}

Botanical identification:

In Simon's days the term "brazil" or "brazilwood" denoted wood from different species than the one used today. When the Portuguese sailor Pedro Álvares Cabral was blown off course to India and landed by chance on the coast of South America he found among the flora there a certain tree, Caesalpinia echinata Lam., "Brazilwood, Pau-Brasil, Pau de Pernambuco" [[1]]. The wood of this tree was similar to the redwood trees that used to be at the time imported from India and other parts of Asia primarily for producing a red dye. In the course of time the South American C. echinata came to replace the Asian species almost entirely. The word for "redwood tree" in Portuguese was brasil, and this term was later used to denote large chunks of the then only recently discovered American continent.

The redwood used in Simon's days came from Asia and consisted mainly of the following species:

  • Caesalpinia sappan L. "Sappan wood" [[2]], a flowering tree of the legume family, Fabaceae, native to Southeast Asia and the Malay archipelago.
  • Pterocarpus indicus Willd., "New Guinea rosewood" [[3]], with a wide distribution over most of Southeast Asia, and
  • Pterocarpus santalinus L.f. "red sandalwood" [[4]], with a narrow distribution restricted to parts of southern India.

Cf. also Genaust (1996: 106), s.v. brasiliánus.

WilfGunther 01/03/2014

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